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Posted 7/5/2012   Updated 7/10/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Ross A. Whitley
JBER Public Affairs

7/5/2012 - ADAK -- The explosive ordnance disposal team tried and tried to make it out to the remote island, but every time they were prepared for the trip, their flight was cancelled due to weather. After many tries, they finally got out to the island - but the trip was cut short. The team only had time to dispose of one of three bombs.

They did what they could, and returned home to wait for another opportunity.

The team from the 673d Civil Engineer Squadron's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight had been waiting for months for the opportunity to finish the job, and on June 12, they got it.

A team of JBER Airmen traveled to the island of Adak in the Aleutian island chain to dispose of some World War II-era bombs.

They had been notified last winter of three bombs which had surfaced on the island.
In February, the team traveled to Adak on an Air Force C-12 Huron aircraft and detonated one of the three 250-pound AN-M57 aircraft bombs.

Weather precluded them from returning until recently.

"Adak Island is known for its terrible weather," said C-12 pilot Air Force Capt. John Smyrski, 517th Airlift Squadron. "Seventy-five percent of the year it's either raining or snowing, so no matter what day it is, it's bad for trying to land on."

The island is currently home to about 200 people. The military had a strong presence there during World War II and left in 1997. After World War II, the military disposed of extra ammunition by burying it.

After 60 years of erosion and runoff, some of these munitions are resurfacing. The EOD team disposes of found munitions and makes the area safe for residents.

"We thought they were practice bombs and we are not experts on explosives like that," said Layton Lockett, Adak city manager. "They could have ... exploded later, and somebody really could have gotten hurt. We are grateful the group could come out and take care of it for us."

The two remaining bombs were on the outskirts of Adak, in a drainage ditch on the side of a road.

"When the snow melted, the runoff actually exposed the bombs," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Harrell, a 673d CES EOD technician.

The team excavated the two bombs and moved them to a safe location for destruction, Harrell said, pointing out a nearby area with a bluff that would absorb most of the blast.
"We asked the city of Adak before we came out to pick a spot where things (wouldn't be) damaged." Harrell said.

"We're going to place our charge, run one line of (plastic explosive) on each bomb, and try to blow everything up at the same time," said Senior Airman Scott South, another EOD technician.

Once the team laid the explosives and placed blasting caps, they moved about 5,000 feet away on a ridge where they could watch the blast from a safe distance.

"Fire in the hole," EOD Tech. Sgt. Dennis Guay shouted above a brisk Adak wind.
After the detonation of the bombs, the team inspected the area for any damage or dangerous material, but there was nothing left.

"It's still amazing to see what is a part of our history and what has been left around," Lockett said. "We really are grateful that it could be taken care of."

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